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The following is a guest post by Julian Hearn at “Happier.” If you are interested in guest posting at Club Thrifty, please see our guest posting guidelines.
As moms, we constantly worry about what our kids will takeaway from us and what they’ll adopt from society. And, as Holly pointed out in her post “What I Want My Kids to Know About Money”, what we do really matters as much as what we say.
We can “do” all day long, but without the “say”, our actions may be overlooked or forgotten. We want to teach them not to get ripped off, to save what they can, and to stay out of debt as much as possible. One way to ingrain that “doing” is by explaining why we do what we do. And, later, as the conversations and actions progress, we can ask them what they think we should do – and why.
Actions are very important, but words are, too.
And making financial education a fun matter is necessary, if we want to instill the lessons in them – and in ourselves. Because to teach, we first have to master, right? That means we have to know what we’re talking about; we have to follow through with our lessons; and we have to practice what we preach.
Making it fun, makes it easier on us and on them. They’ll see our approaches to money are healthy and fulfilling and that’s what they’ll (hopefully) migrate toward later. Here are a few fun ways to teach kids about money that we can start using today!
7 Ways to Make Learning About Money Fun
- Play Monopoly Jr. Get your kids involved in the money concept early with Monopoly Jr. This version of an old tradition allows them to set up ticket booths to different rides throughout the amusement park. They earn money through ticket sales. And done well, even the 5 year old will walk away with an understanding of earning and spending money.
- Let them sit in on Money Meetings. Whether you hold meetings with just you and your laptop as you pay bills or with your spouse, let them be silent partners in the beginning as you explain what it is you’re doing and why. Later, they can graduate to Junior Partner, once they’ve gotten a grasp of the concept. Schedule your meetings and offer drinks and snacks to make an event of it.
- Act out role-playing money games. Set up scenarios where the kids have a goal (i.e. buy the things they need for living, saving $300, etc.) and let them be the parents while you pretend to be them. They’ll have to think about the lessons they’ve been taught and how they will achieve their goal.
- Let them be their own accountant. Give them an “accounting book” to keep track of chores they’ve performed during the week. At the end of the week, give them their allowance and help them understand and divide it up properly (Ideally: 40% to spending, 40% short-term savings, 10% long-term savings, and 10% to charity).
- Give them accountability. Open a checking and savings account with them and teach them how to use software, like Mint.com, to keep up with what they have and how well they are reaching their goals.
- Let them play money games online. Sites like Nick Jr., Turtle Diary, and PBSKids are great places to find money games that will teach coin recognition, tag reading, and more.
- Play reporter. After a visit to the store, let them play journalist where they have to explain to the “audience” what just happened. (Here we are at Whole Foods, ladies and gentlemen, and Mr. Brown has just handed over $20 to the lady behind the counter and what he got in return was a package of 10 clothes hangers and $17. How extraordinary! He gave her too much money, folks!)
The times and ways to learn about money are endless. Keeping your eyes open for opportunities will help you keep the learning fun and ongoing. There’s no one right time to do this.
What are your favorite and most fun ways to teach your kids about money?
Julian Hearn, blogs at Happier, a friendly blog about personal finance, living frugally, and happiness.